The Great Pizza Quest
Domino's Pizza is a well-established pizza restaurant, even if it doesn't seem to blip frequently on people's radars. Yet, unlike Pizza Hut, Domino's has managed to maintain a presence - perhaps in part to its 2010 re-invention.1
Some time ago, when my wife and I placed an order on-line, I signed up for the e-coupons which they send twice a week. Some of the deals are in fact deals - not merely a few bucks off to simply get you to buy from their menu. For example, we ordered two large specialty pizzas with breadsticks for about $20. (That's the advantage - the disadvantage is I crave pizza every time I receive the emails) This time around - which I'll be writing about - we ordered two more commonly topped large pizzas at regular cost: one Hawaiian on the classic hand-tossed crust, and one Canadian on the crunchy thin crust.
Firstly, the Hawaiian. The crust was decently thick and moderately dense; the bare edges had crispy strands of cheese baked onto it and the crust overall had a distinct, robust taste to it. The pineapple seemed somewhat scarce and flavourless - and a tad dry - while the ham was sliced thin and spread conservatively. The cheese was layered moderately thick and was baked to a slightly golden colour; it had a chewiness to it that wasn't off-putting, but seemed to be a result of a possible cheese blend - the US improved recipe included provolone in the shredded mozzarella, so this could be something similar.
Secondly, the crunchy thin crust lived up to its description quite well: it was very thin and baked very well done to a beautiful crunchy bite. The pizza was cut into small squares as opposed triangular pieces, which came as a surprise, and there was no outter edge - that is, the toppings covered the entirety of the pie. The toppings were of a similarly mediocre quality to that of our other pizza. The pepperoni was crisp, flavourful, and generous; the mushrooms were thin, small, and a bit dry, but had some presence; and the bacon was little balls of chewy, fatty pork. The Canadian certainly had more flavour to it than the Hawaiian, but perhaps the much smaller amount of crust contributed to this.
Third and lastly, the tomato sauce was a mix of powerful herbs and spices that gave each bite a necessary gentle kick and boost in flavour with a bit of sweetness, while not leaving the pizza very saucy. It was well hidden beneath the layers of cheese and other toppings, but what your eyes don't see, your tongue definitely will taste. I think their sauce might be one of the best things they do (they actually also have really good breadsticks).
Domino's pizza has a very unique savour - one that is present in all their pizzas, giving their pies nearly the same exact taste. I can't quite put my finger on it - whether it's the crust or the sauce - but there's something in it that's much more boldly flavoured than anything else on it. And yet, while bold, it almost has a strange blandness - perhaps because it is an overpowering part of every one of their pizzas. Yet, it's not horrible or unbearable, and in fact has lead me to want to order from them multiple times. But alas, their pizzas do not quite have the pizza taste that makes my mouth lust after it, and so I'll move on.
1. In December 2009, Domino's announced that over the past 18 months they had been working on entirely changing and improving the recipes of their crust, sauce and cheese (check out the press release here). Overall, the changes have been quite well received. However, as far as I can tell, the changes did not make it to Canada - but with that being said, all my reading suggests that the improvements made in the US only served to elevate the quality of their pizza product to the level of that found in Canadian Domino's restaurants.